The National Rural Health Alliance is comprised of 37 national organisations. We are committed to improving the health and wellbeing of the more than 6.7 million people in rural and remote Australia. Our members include consumer groups (such as the Country Women’s Association of Australia), representation from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector, health professional organisations (representing doctors, nurses and midwives, allied health professionals, dentists, pharmacists, optometrists, paramedics, health students, chiropractors and health service managers) and service providers (such as the Royal Flying Doctor Service).
Our large and diverse membership is a well-rounded representation of the rural health sector. We work with a range of stakeholders to identify opportunities to improve the health and wellbeing of people in rural areas and develop well-targeted, cost-effective, evidence-based solutions. We are a rich source of credible information and expertise, and stand ready to work with Government and Opposition in their response to current and emerging rural health issues.
We produce a range of communication materials, such as fact sheets and infographics, media releases, our flagship magazine Partyline - which has more than 13,000 subscribers, - and our monthly online newsletter Bush Wire. The centrepiece of our communication, our website, received more than 73,000 visits last year. We are also very active on social media with more than 6,000 Twitter followers and over 3,500 people following our page on Facebook. Our enormous reach allows us to disseminate rural health information to a broad audience and promptly gather its views on rural health issues of the day.
We manage the Australian Journal of Rural Health, a robust source of research information, policy articles and reflections related to rural health. Last year there were over 160,000 full article downloads from the Journal. It is an important publication for researchers and practitioners, and for policy makers in their design and implementation of policies and programs.
We manage the Rural Australia Medical Undergraduate Scholarship, a large-scale program which each year supports 587 students from a rural background to study medicine. We have run the program since its introduction in 2000. This has given us unique insights into the rural health workforce 'pipeline' and we are well-placed to advise the Government on the formulation of health workforce initiatives.
We have managed the Rural Health Continuing Education Stream 2, a grants program which supports continuing professional development (CPD) for health professionals working in rural areas. Since its introduction in 2010, 119 projects have been funded and 8,500 health professionals have been supported. This work has strengthened our understanding of an increasingly important workforce development and retention strategy - one which will be critical in addressing future workforce issues.
We host the National Rural Health Conference, a biennial event which brings together people from all walks of life with a commitment to improving the health and wellbeing of people in rural areas. The conference spans four days and attracts over 1,000 delegates. The event is an important opportunity for people to network, raise issues and ideas, and to guide the Alliance in prioritising its policy work. We are also currently working on a number of other events, such as Caring for Country Kids, Rural and Remote Health Scientific Symposium, and a series of RHCE2 Regional Roundtables.
For those looking for closer engagement with us, there is Friends of the Alliance, a network of people and organisations that come together to support our work and provide additional grassroots connections. If you would like further information on any of our work, please visit our website at www.ruralhealth.org.au or contact us on (02) 6285 4660.